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Identity theft at Jewish Film Fest

by Dikla Kadosh

May 13, 2008 | 4:52 pm

“Don’t you know? Auschwitz isn’t just for the Jews anymore,” says Lukas, the disturbed (and disturbing) protagonist of “The Memory Thief,” a film by Gil Kofman that was screened Monday night, May 12, at the Jewish Film Festival.

Lukas is an exceedingly desperate character - a young man with no past and no hope of a future who works as a tollbooth cashier by day and watches pornography in his ramshackle apartment by night. He visits a catatonic woman in the hospital, pretending she is his mother and wonders about the lives of the thousands of drivers who whiz by him everyday.

“I bet not one of them would remember my face,” he muses gloomily.

When one of those drivers, a Holocaust survivor, stops to talk to him, Lukas begins to take an interest in the lives of Jews who were victimized during World War II. His interest becomes a frightening obsession that consumes Lukas, a non-Jew, to the point where he assumes the identity of a survivor - stealing memories that are not his own and creating a future for himself that may be more concrete and certain, but definitely not any less dismal.

This psychological twister is well made and intriguing, but plan to get ice cream or something sweet after the movie to alleviate the gloomy state of mind you’ll undoubtedly be in.

“The Memory Thief” opens May 30 at the Music Hall in Beverly Hills. For more info, check out www.memorythiefmovie.com.

The Jewish Film Festival continues this week with several more screenings, two of which are worth highlighting:

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Song of David” is about another young man’s obsession - except this one is a little more normal. David is a Hasidic 16-year-old studying to become a rabbi who discovers the world of rap music and his own talent at expressing himself in this urban genre that is so far from his secluded religious world. The screening at the Knitting Factory on Wed., May 14 at 6 p.m. will be followed by a performance by the Moshav Band.

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The Tree of Life” is a documentary by L.A.-based director Hava Volterra, who turns the lens on her own life as she deals with her father’s death by exploring his familial roots in Italy. If Rob Eshman raved about this film, then it has to be worth a look. “Tree of Life” is screening on Wed., May 14 at 7 p.m. at Wilshire Blvd. Temple, Audrey and Sydney Irmas Campus.

Details of the screenings at www.lajfilmfest.org.

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